Start Ups

This Johnson & Wales Student Wants To Fundamentality Alter The Way You Look At Snack Food

Davian Watson is crazy for flavored nuts.

Well, actually he’s loko about them.

A junior at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, Watson is also the founder and CEO of Loko Nutz.

He’s a constant presence at local farmers markets and is hustling to get his unique product out to the masses.

A Kansas City, MO native, Watson says that Loko Nutz was created out of boredom for his usual go-to snacks.

We recently spoke to Watson about his company and what it’s like to be a young entrepreneur in the Magic City.

RISE NEWS: How would you explain what Loko Nutz is to someone who has never heard of them before? 

Watson: Loko Nutz are outrageously flavored nuts designed to help families and friends live a little through snacking guilt-free. The recipes originated from a combination of my Kansas City culture and newly developed pallet for Miami cuisine. I also use customer feedback to create new outlandish flavors via Facebook and in-person suggestions at my farmer’s market booth.

RISE NEWS: What have you learned from starting a business?

Starting a business has taught me the importance of maintaining an organized schedule in my personal and professional life so that Loko Nutz can develop and expand. It is my responsibility to ensure that I am performing well in school and at work as a student assistant for a high volume department so that my business will continue to grow.

RISE NEWS: What are the biggest challenges with your business?

Currently, my biggest challenge is my lack of knowledge about the business world. I want to already be at the top of the small business owner market, for everyone to know about the Loko Nutz brand, and to instinctively think Loko Nutz whenever a snack craving rises—but I know it takes years of hard work and dedication to become a household name. Therefore, I guess you can say that my second challenge is my lack of patience.

RISE NEWS: Is it hard starting your own company as a young person?

Starting your own company at any age presents its own unique set of challenges; but with determination, ambition, and the right support system, I have found myself reaching new heights and learning new information every day!

RISE NEWS: How are your sales? How are you getting your products out to the public?

I am overwhelmed at the positive responses I have received from the Upper Eastside Farmers Market, my peers, and chefs here at Johnson & Wales University. Currently, I am working on the anticipated December launch of my online store,, and expanding my social media presence. I currently sell at Upper Eastside farmers markets located at Legion Park on Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

RISE NEWS: What does your family think about you starting your own business?

My family have been my biggest supporters and advisors. They believe with hard work and persistence anything is possible. It seems they cannot get enough of Loko Nutz!

RISE NEWS: Do you have any friends who help with it or is it all just you at this point?

I have a dedicated group of friends that are my go-to people whenever I am testing out a new flavor that will potentially join the Loko Nutz menu. Fortunately, I already know that no business gets to the top on their own and I am extremely grateful to those who have taken time out of their day to give feedback on packaging ideas, tasting new flavors, and even driving to the Upper Eastside Farmer’s Market to purchase one, two or three bags of Loko Nutz.

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Watch More: Miami’s Secret Tequesta Burial Mound 

Start Up To Offer Incentives To Get Lawyers To Provide Veterans Free Services

This piece is from Jurbid, a legal start up. 

They serve and protect – the legal profession fails them. Veterans in need.

While today should not be the only day we honor the fearless and brave men and women who protect our great country and ensure that we can go about our lives safely, it is an important day to take note how we fail them at home.

Currently, there are nearly 40,000 homeless veterans. In fact, veterans make up nearly 20% of the male homelessness population.

Sadly, women veterans are the fastest growing homeless population in the US.

Women veterans are four times as likely to become homeless as male counterparts!

Per several sources, New York and Florida have among the highest veteran homelessness population in the country.

It is estimated that there are 3,500 homeless veterans in New York City alone! In Central Florida, there are about 4,500 homeless veterans.

Why are so many veterans homeless you may wonder?


They are often unemployed and disconnected from their families upon their return home because of mental illness and substance abuse.

They are simply not given the proper support to be re-integrated in civilian life.

They don’t know how to apply for social benefit programs that are designed to help them.

Lawyers are trained to provide such services and can ensure that veterans receive the benefits they deserve.

Currently, there is very little legal support for them.

How can we as proud Americans live with ourselves knowing that these veterans are in dire need of support and help and they receive none?

Jurbid will make a stand.

Starting today, Jurbid will provide the lawyers in its network incentives to provide pro bono services to veterans including free or discounted services.

Additionally, all veterans will receive a 5% discount off their paid legal service.

We are here for you because you have been there for us.

With much respect and love.

Your Jurbid Team.

Jurbid is your legal connection. Our innovative platform connects you with top quality legal counsel. From employment disputes to immigration. You can learn more at

This piece is part of the RISE NEWS Marketplace, a place where startups and other companies can post articles about what they are up to. If you would like your company to be included, please email [email protected]

Cover Photo Credit: Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Uruguay/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

WATCH: Mark Zuckerberg Talks About “The Facebook” Before It Was Huge

This is an interesting video that we just came across. And for all you young entrepreneurs out there, it also has an important lesson- you can never really know where your idea or business is going.

In the video, a young Mark Zuckerberg talks about his dreams for “The Facebook” and they are pretty different than what Facebook has become a decade later.

Take a look and tell us what you think in the comments below:


RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

For $99 a Month, MealPass Gets You Gourmet Lunch Everyday Of The Week

Adulting is hard, and having to feed yourself everyday is arguably the hardest part about it.

If you’ve got the cooking thing down, you probably spend hundreds of dollars each month on groceries and hours each week preparing your meals.

If you opt for buying your meals everyday, you’re probably spending hundreds of dollars on delivery orders, expensive salads and pizza cravings.

A potential solution?

MealPass. For $99 a month – breaking down to about $5 a day – you get lunch every weekday from one of the best restaurants in Downtown Miami & Brickell.

Launching this week, the platform seeks to provide locals with affordable lunch options while helping restaurants put their name and menu on the map.

Here’s how it works: Starting at 7 p.m. the night before, users can log in to see the menu for the following day, make their pick and head out to pick up at lunchtime. Participating restaurants offer one prix fixe meal a day.

On Thursday, Jan. 14, MealPass hosted their official launch party with more than 300 eager foodies in attendance for a sneak peek at the restaurants on board.

Tasting were available for Miami staples including Suviche, Brother Jimmy’s, Novecento and Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita.

According to conversations I had with participating restaurants, they take a portion of the subscription dollars and are mostly eager for the added revenue on the backend through exposure of their restaurant.

“This will help people tell others about our location, come for other meals throughout the day, and we anticipate to start seeing more traffic,” said a team member from Spaghettino. “We are very excited to be a part of this program.”


The gathered crowd at the MealPass kick off event Thursday Jan 14 in Miami.

MealPass founders Mary Biggins and Katie Ghelli were inspired to launch the program from their own dining experiences in college. They enjoyed finding new places to eat and wanted to consolidate the options in Miami to help locals expand their dining routine.

“We’re excited to help consumers easily discover all the best lunch options in Brickell,” Ghelli told RISE NEWS.

Mary Biggins is also co-founder of a similar and widely successful program, ClassPass.

With ClassPass, subscribers pay $99 a month to take classes at dozens of different fitness studios in a given city.

The company receives a bulk discount on classes from their providers in exchange for helping them reach new customers. According to the company, more than 10.8 million reservations were made in 2015 – a 700% leap from the year before.

Unlike ClassPass, which has a three-time per month limit per studio, MealPass does not have restrictions as menus will rotate daily and the company doesn’t anticipate users will want to eat the same thing every day.

The menu has a wide selection.

Gourmet salads and acai bowls from Cold Pressed Raw, hearty pasta dishes from Garzon on your “cheat day,” even decadent dessert and crepes from YUZU.

Friday’s menu included Chicken Teriyaki from Sushi Maki, Chicken Mac & Cheese from American Social, Sausage, Egg & Cheese from Toasted, Cheese Quesadillas from Batch, Couscous Fish Salad from Fit2Go, and more than 50 other decadent options to choose from.

If you’re looking to indulge in lunch from some of the best restaurants in our city for only $99 a month, you can sign up at

You can also follow MealPass on social media:

Instagram: @mealpassapp
Twitter: @mealpassapp

Do you run a start-up or small business? We might be interested in writing about you! Send us a story pitch to [email protected]

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Photo Credits: Lissette Calveiro/RISE NEWS.

South Florida Tech Should Make It A Priority To Make Miami A 2016 NewCo City

By David Capelli

Miami is on everyone’s radar, as the NewCo movement sparked heightened interest in the Magic City’s bustling ecosystem. I was able to go behind the scenes of Newco San Francisco and Oakland earlier this month. While there, I made the case for why Miami should be the next Newco city in 2016.

NewCo is a movement celebrating people in a city sharing a new narrative of business and culture. From a selected applicant pool companies, non-profits, and initiatives open their doors to the public and share their space, story and experience with an interactive crowd, catalyzing a narrative of collaboration, culture and ecosystem building for a more resilient economy.

“Business is changing” NewCo CEO John Battelle said at Newco’s open house in the Bay Area. “75% of millennials say they prefer working for a company focused on positive change. Technology is not a vertical, it’s horizontal.”

Read More: Start Up Miami-LiveAnswer Leads The Way In South Florida Tech Innovation

At a time when the economy is rapidly changing from an industrial to innovation economy, Newco empowers communities to celebrate and spark new positive change. Battelle, a former media executive with several successful exits, was inspired to start Newco for the Valley to “see a world bigger than them.”

After a while, Battelle realized he needed to “ stop being half- pregnant and go. Just do it.”

NewCo is now in 17 cities and rapidly expanding, with their newest media platform featuring Newco companies around the world on their daily newsletter, building community around the new innovation economy.

NewCo experiences cost at most $500 for the VIP level. The aim is to engage the entire community in the experience. For included companies and non-profits, there is zero cost to host and much to gain, most notably, exposure, customers, and connections. Being selected as a Newco city is a rigorous process.

 “Although I don’t know Miami well, I know Miami has a strong connection to Latin America. To me, that is an interesting narrative for Miami.” Chris Redlitz, Managing Partner at Transmedia Capital said.

“We look to see the city’s narrative, their unique companies and extensive team of various leaders that can pull off all components of hosting a Newco experience,” Lee Ann Mariglia, NewCo’s Communications Director said.

During the NewCo event, I was able to meet the CEO’s and go behind the scenes of Slack, Lyft, BetterDoctor, EatWith, NovaEd, the City of Oakland, Comrade, and Uber. Each session has Newco “ambassadors” that assist with the open-house experiences in the companies.

I served as an ambassador for EatWith, an in-house restaurant experience concept. The next day their team and I grabbed coffee and discussed their interest in entering the Miami market, along with other plans for the Miami ecosystem to spur more food entrepreneurs. Experiences like these connect cities and people together for stronger economies, something Miami has been doing for years for tourists.

Sitting next to me at the Newco session was one of Newco’s first investors, Chris Redlitz, Managing Partner at Transmedia Capital. I asked him what about Miami excites him as an investor and what he hopes to discover in Miami.

Read More: In Miami’s Wynwood Art District, A 25 Year Old Artist Is Ready To Take The City By Storm

“I am interested in discovering global market trends early on and nurturing that unique, fresh talent” Redlitz said. “Although I don’t know Miami well, I know Miami has a strong connection to Latin America. To me, that is an interesting narrative for Miami.”

Miami has a narrative that truly resembles the mission of NewCo of identifying, celebrating and connecting engines of positive change in our society. The entrepreneurial community, governments, and tourism/travel groups all contribute to our developing ecosystem and are critical to having a successful NewCo festival in Miami.

Miami has a new narrative to share with the world: the most diverse and bustling entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country at the nexus of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Let’s tell the story together and make Miami a Newco city in 2016.

David Capelli is Founder/CEO of TECH Miami and a contributor to Rise News.

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- [email protected] 

Cover Photo Credit: Vladimir Kud/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

VICE Media Executive To Give Free Advice For Miami Startups At Event Tuesday Night

Miami’s bustling startup community will be centered on Lincoln Road Tuesday night for a talk by VICE Media’s Dan Perry on how to produce an effective content strategy for new businesses.

The event is hosted by Jurnid, a publishing platform startup that connects publishers with top freelance talent. The event will allow people in Miami’s startup and small business ecosystem to ask questions and learn from Perry on best practices to web content.

From Jurnid on what to expect:

“Join Dan Perry and a growing list of game changing Miami based startups for an evening of discussion focused on content strategy. Develop a content strategy for your startup, brand, organization or business that works. Build a more engaged community around your products and services. Learn what current trends are affecting your digital signals and how to cut through the noise of information overload. We focus heavily on Q&A after a very short presentation, so bring your questions!”


Andrew Quarrie, the founder of Jurnid said that the event could be a game changer for some local businesses.

“We want founders and attendees to walk away with answers and insights related to their specific implementation of a content strategy,” Quarrie said. “Since we focus heavily on Q&A, this becomes a forum where we can learn from each other’s experience. Aside from knowledge gained, making peer and media related connections are important to building relationships for the exchange of ideas and more.”

Quarrie said that Perry was picked as the speaker because of his experience leading Vice Media’s expansion across three continents.

“He [Perry] comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience to share,” Quarrie said. “Entrepreneurs, marketers, and anyone in business responsible for developing a content strategy can learn from engaging in this discussion.”

The event will be taking place October 13 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM at WeWork co-working space (350 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139).

Quarrie said that there is a shift happening in the digital marketing space, as display ads and traditional SEM style push in advertising are not as effective as the pull of stories that are native to the websites, apps, and various media properties of businesses and brands.

“Organic and native stories perform better for engaging readers, which can help with high quality web traffic, lead generation, and brand loyalty,” Quarrie said. “It is important for startups to tell original stories even while in the early stages of building a product. Drive better engagement with your current and potential customers – pre and post launch – know what resonates with your audience.”

Rise News is a media sponsor of the event.

Rise News readers can attend it for free by using this link for tickets:

Photo Credit: b k/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? Send it to us- [email protected] 

Start Up Miami: LiveAnswer Leads The Way In South Florida Tech Innovation

By David Drucker

LiveAnswer, a proprietary sharing economy platform that specializes in providing phone support (customer service, technical support), is setting an example for new businesses not only in Miami, but also around the globe.

After a successful first year, the company is preparing for a national startup competition and the integration of new age components into its call service all while doing what they can to help other Miami startups succeed.

CEO Adam Boalt has seen his company experience rapid success in a short period of time. After launching in 2014, the Miami-based company entered Tech. Co’s Miami Startup of the Year Competition that summer.

Although Boalt’s company did not claim victory in its debut year, they learned from the experience and reevaluated how their business should operate.

Now as the winners of best pitch at Tech Co’s competition in July – of the 13 finalists, they ended up with 40% of the final votes – LiveAnswer is now gearing up for the national competition in early October.

“When we first pitched LiveAnswer last year, we focused a lot on the software standpoint and not as much on its value to the community,” Boalt said. “This year, we did it all differently and spoke about the value of what we were providing to the local community.”

Although they have a flight booked for Tech Co’s national competition in Las Vegas, the Miami startup has not forgotten the city in which it got its start.

LiveAnswer is in an active partnership with Enrique Iglesias’ Atlántico Rum and Pipeline Workspaces, a partnership forged at this summer’s Social Media Day South Florida, where the companies teamed up to work towards making Miami #1 in startup activity on the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity by 2016.


LiveAnswer’s new “multi-channel platform”. The company says that the new product will add email, chat and social media to its voice capabilities in a move to improve client experience. Photo Credit: Live Answer

The partnership will continue its mission through their sponsorship of Social Media Week Miami, a sold out conference running until September 18 at the Miami Ad School in Wynwood.

The multi-day event will host some of the top social media analysts from around the country to help businesses in Miami better understand the increasingly connected world through digital media.

LiveAnswer is also actively working towards improving its own product through the release of their multi-channel platform. The company says that the new product will add email, chat and social media to its voice capabilities to improve client experience.

For Boalt, pushing his business forward has always been about choosing the right team and knowing where to invest his energy.

“100% of succeeding is being hyper-focused,” Boalt said. “Sometimes our minds can wander and think ‘it’d be nice to have this, it’d be nice to have that.’ You have to rope yourself back in and ask yourself what’s the difference between ‘must-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ and stick to the ‘must-have’s’.”

Do you know of a cool start up? Own your own small business that is doing something revolutionary? We are interested in writing about it! Send us a tip to [email protected]

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news.

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